Dementia is a common condition that affects millions of Americans over the age of 65. While memory loss and confusion are well-known symptoms, there are other signs that should not be overlooked. According to neurologist Dr. Arif Dalvi, difficulty with language and spatial skills can indicate early stages of dementia. Other red flags include difficulty completing familiar tasks, noise sensitivity, and personality changes without explanation. Some types of dementia, such as Lewy body dementia, can cause hallucinations or delusions, so any unusual symptoms should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
Early diagnosis is crucial to improving quality of life and slowing the progression of the disease. Traditional treatment options such as medication to manage symptoms and recommendations for lifestyle changes are vital in maintaining cognitive function and overall well-being. There have been significant breakthroughs in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, with the FDA approving two new drugs that target the buildup of amyloid beta plaques in the brain. Other innovative approaches to treatment include suppressing neuroinflammation and using gene therapy.
There is no official age for a dementia screening, but it is recommended that individuals over the age of 65 have a mini cognitive assessment. Physicians can look for reversible causes of memory loss such as a vitamin B12 deficiency or hypothyroidism. Screening for hearing loss is also important as it is estimated that 1 out of 9 dementias can be explained on the basis of age-related hearing loss.
Overall, an early and accurate diagnosis allows for a plan to be put in place for either treating or slowing the cause of dementia. There should be no stigma associated with screening for dementia, and individuals should bring up any concerning symptoms to their doctor as soon as possible. While there is no complete cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s, there is a lot that can be done to improve the lives of those affected by the disease.